Anti-racism group celebrates 20 years

The story of Shasta County Citizens Against Racism is really the story of a lot of great people.

David Ledger, Isaac Lowe and others helped it get off the ground. President Fran Brady supplied the vision along with inexhaustible energy, with steadfast assistance from Don Yost and Lee Macey. All of the Civil Rights and Social Justice Awards winners exemplify life-long commitments to SCCAR’s ideals. And the real story of SCCAR is that all the members, each in his or her own way, walk, talk, and act in away that stands up to racism and supports humanity.

SCCAR has held two “Building Bridges” and two “Let’s Talk About It” youth conferences over the years, made numerous presentations to schools and service clubs, participated in law-enforcement training seminars, and supported the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Day activities. Its Hate Crime Forum in 2004 at the MLK Center, with representatives from six local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, was a particularly memorable community meeting.

SCCAR has also joined with numerous local agencies and collaboratives to help give a booming resonance to the community voice when events warranted it. Having the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance’s T.J Leyden, a reformed white supremacist, speak to more than 700 people here in 1999 was one such occasion, and was a collaboration with the Shasta County Office of Education and Youth Violence Prevention Council. The Unity Rally in the Downtown Mall, where more than 400 people voiced their outrage about the killings of Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder in front of national press coverage, helped us turn a corner as a community on gay rights.

SCCAR was part of the hundreds of people saying, “Not In Our Town” to the cross-burning in Anderson in 2004, and vandalism at the Sikh Temple in 2006. All of these events have helped forge strong community alliances with government officials, law enforcement, churches and all who stand up for human and civil rights.

SCCAR’s influence has also extended beyond the borders of Shasta County at times. The SCCAR website (http://www.sccar.org/) has prompted hundreds of e-mails from around the world, and spurred the City of Rock Hill, South Carolina, to post No Room for Racism signs.

SCCAR presented at a statewide cultural awareness conference in Bakersfield, and gave support in Yuba City when a Caltrans worker’s car and home were sprayed with racial slurs. And SCCAR is featured in The Working Group’s “Not In Our Town, Northern California – When Hate Happens Here” film, which has been shown throughout California on PBS-TV.

SCCAR’s local prominence increased greatly in 1995 with the City of Redding posting the first “No Room For Racism” sign. Since that time, a total of 75 signs have been posted by schools, all the surrounding cities and Shasta County, churches, businesses, and private individuals.

The attached table details hate crimes reported to Shasta County law enforcement during this same period:
1995- 22
1996- 23
1997- 12
1998- 11
1999- 11
2000- 11
2001 – 9
2002- 6
2003- 18
2004 – 24
2005- 17
2006- 13

While we wish that these numbers were all “zeroes,” the numbers do compare favorably with state and national reports.

In a county that does not have a Human Rights Council or Commission, all of the actions mentioned above, and so many more by SCCAR have helped fill the void. Where would we have been without SCCAR?

SCCAR invites you to an open house celebration on Sat., May 31 in the Redding Library Community Room from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., with a special presentation by Shasta County Supervisor David Kehoe at noon.

The public is also invited to view a display of international art, along with SCCAR history at the Library’s Fireside Room through the end of May.

Please join us as we celebrate 20 years of good work.

Tom O'Mara

Tom O’Mara is a volunteer Civil Rights Advocate for the Redding Police Department.

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